Lewis follows the president for six months—joining him for basketball pickup games, a trip on Air Force One, and inside a decision on how to handle Libya:
"Before big meetings the president is given a kind of road map, a list of who will be at the meeting and what they might be called on to contribute. The point of this particular meeting was for the people who knew something about Libya to describe what they thought Qaddafi might do, and then for the Pentagon to give the president his military options. 'The intelligence was very abstract,' says one witness. 'Obama started asking questions about it. "What happens to the people in these cities when the cities fall? When you say Qaddafi takes a town, what happens?"' It didn’t take long to get the picture: if they did nothing they’d be looking at a horrific scenario, with tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered. (Qaddafi himself had given a speech on February 22, saying he planned to 'cleanse Libya, house by house.') The Pentagon then presented the president with two options: establish a no-fly zone or do nothing at all. The idea was that the people in the meeting would debate the merits of each, but Obama surprised the room by rejecting the premise of the meeting. 'He instantly went off the road map,' recalls one eyewitness. 'He asked, "Would a no-fly zone do anything to stop the scenario we just heard?"' After it became clear that it would not, Obama said, 'I want to hear from some of the other folks in the room.'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 11, 2012
LENGTH: 55 minutes (13989 words)
He can write about these kinds of people with such skill in part because he is one of them. At a time of peril for his industry, Lewis has managed to build what amounts to a personal empire of long-form journalism, with a Warren Buffett-like collection of brands and eye for the next big thing. “He’s got good instincts for the individual story and for the broader picture of where that story belongs,” says Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. “The big story of the day is the world financial crisis, and he’s the most kick-ass business writer out there.” His aptitude for translating and enlivening financial concepts has made him an indispensable observer of the crisis: In May 2010, Politico reported that The Big Short had been name-checked on the official Senate record at least fifteen times since its publication just two months before, and that Hill staffers had been calling Lewis at home for advice.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 2, 2011
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4217 words)
The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo ﬁre chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 29, 2011
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11495 words)
The secrets of Moneyball, eight years later. "The young men had heaps of fun, working crazy hours and, to blow off steam, knocking golf balls around the office, playing football among the cubicles and celebrating big wins with postgame refreshments at Boston watering holes. Then one day in 2002, a best-selling writer by the name of Michael Lewis walked into the Red Sox offices and knocked the smile right off Epstein's face. Lewis was working on a book about baseball's nascent information age, but Epstein wanted nothing to do with him. 'I can't believe Billy is letting him write this book,' he told his colleagues. Billy Beane, Oakland's general manager, had granted Lewis access to his front-office operations, which meant revealing how the A's were mining information from statistical analysis, a tool used extensively at the time by only the Athletics, Indians, Blue Jays and Red Sox. 'He's handing out the blueprint,' Epstein told Hoyer."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 21, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4711 words)
With Greece and Ireland in economic shreds, while Portugal, Spain, and perhaps even Italy head south, only one nation can save Europe from financial Armageddon: a highly reluctant Germany. The ironies—like the fact that bankers from Düsseldorf were the ultimate patsies in Wall Street’s con game—pile up quickly as Michael Lewis investigates German attitudes toward money, excrement, and the country’s Nazi past, all of which help explain its peculiar new status.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 10, 2011
LENGTH: 38 minutes (9622 words)
It is hard to think of another writer as great as Mark Twain who did so many things that even merely good writers are not supposed to do. Great writers are not meant to write bad books, much less publish them. Twain not only published a lot of bad books, he doesn’t appear to have noticed the difference between his good ones and his bad ones. Great writers are not meant to care more about money than art. Twain cared so much about money that what little he writes about his art in his autobiography is almost entirely, and obsessively, about the business end of things: his paychecks, his promotional tours, his financial disputes with publishers, his venture capital investments in publishing and printing technology.
PUBLISHED: July 2, 2011
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3232 words)
First Iceland. Then Greece. Now Ireland, which headed for bankruptcy with its own mysterious logic. In 2000, suddenly among the richest people in Europe, the Irish decided to buy their country—from one another. After which their banks and government really screwed them. So where’s the rage?
PUBLISHED: Feb. 2, 2011
LENGTH: 53 minutes (13400 words)
As Wall Street hangs on the question, "Will Greece default?", the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country's economic insanity.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 1, 2010
LENGTH: 46 minutes (11671 words)
Excerpt from "The Big Short": Michael Burry always saw the world differently—due, he believed, to the childhood loss of one eye. So when the 32-year-old investor spotted the huge bubble in the subprime-mortgage bond market, in 2004, then created a way to bet against it, he wasn’t surprised that no one understood what he was doing.
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2010
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11492 words)